Killer app: work

One of the often cited motivations for Next Generation Networks is flexible work locations (like home) in combination with videoconferencing.  No need to commute to the office or travel to meetings. Work as the killer app that drives NGN deployments.

I guess it is not as clear cut as that.

Yes, the ability to create teams with the best people regardless of their location is great. To setup impromptu meetings without wasting time to travel is great.

On the other hand there is recent research material showing that creative jobs benefit from the freedom, and repetitive (boring) jobs do not.

We have 3 color receptors in our eyes which allow us to “see” skin color and therefore the accuracy of someone’s proclaimed emotional state. (blood oxygenation levels and amount of blood near the skin is a telltale). One of the reasons we like physical meetings and where video falls short.

Last but not least: work is more than earning money, for many it represents a social environment where professional contact and social contact are mixed. We like that, as social animals.

Nevertheless, even a limited change in work patterns has the potential to finance FttH build outs.

Take some data from the Netherlands.

Approximately 90 billion kilometers are driven by car every year. 50 % is for commuting and business trips, 50 % is for personal use (shopping, entertainment and the like). The commuting and business trips are done with on average a little over 1 person per car, personal use 2 persons per car.

The pattern over time in commuting and business trips is interesting. The graphs below shows in red the business trips, and in blue the commuting. While the economy grew in this decade, the amount of kilometers driven in business trips was more or less stable. Apparently we shifted to more and more electronic communication in professional relationships, increasing productivity. The commuting on the other hand rose sharply by 30 % or in absolute levels by the amount of kilometers driven each year for business trips.

The explanation is twofold:  higher education and dual income families. Higher education means more specialization: more specialization means that you need a larger “catchment area” to find the jobs fitting to your skills. Dual income families do not relocate easily when only one of the partners finds a new job.

The result is costly, both in wasted time and in commuting costs. 9 Billion kilometers at on average 50 km/hr = 180 million man-hours wasted. 9 Billion kilometers at 30 cts/km = 3.300 Million euro.

A big reservoir of untapped waste which could easily pay for FttH: a full scale national build out would cost “only” 5000-6000 Million euro.


About Herman

Herman Wagter writes on Dadamotive about facts and figures behind issues that interest him. His work as interim manager and consultant has involved him directly in the impact of hyperconnectivity and sustainability on society. As an independent agent and "mobile warrior" he has experienced the pro's and con's of how organizations and projects can be structured, and what the effects on the final result can be. In his opinion we are entering an era of profound change, driven by these fundamental forces. Following the trends, discovering the fun and debunking the half-truths is a passion he likes to share with others.
Posted in: Hyperconnectivity.